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6 Apr

Raisefashion Holds First In-person Event to Support BIPOC Creatives

Raisefashion, a corporation dedicated to the advancement of creatives who’re Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, celebrated the importance of community and programs that support up-and-comers with its first in-person event Tuesday night.

Nearly 200 people attended what turned out to be a standing-room-only gathering at Soho House, in line with a post-event e-mail from the nonprofit’s founder Felita Harris. The organization was founded in 2020, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter movement. With Harris on the helm, Raisefashion provides mentorship, resources and industry access to enhance the equity of Black, Indigenous or People of Color individuals.

Guests included staffers from such brands, students from Historically Black College or University schools and designers and executives from the style industry. Harris headlined a panel discussion that included Something Navy’s president Betty Wang, Raisefashion brand fellow and Busayo NYC founder Busayo Olupona, ShopBop’s chief merchandising officer Stephanie Roberson and former Raisefashion intern Shania Thompkins, who’s now a full-time Shopbop worker. Lastminute flight cancellations kept Raisefashion co-founder Alexa Geovanos away unexepectedly.

The industry leaders on the scene included RAISEfashion board members Andrew Taylor of Neiman Marcus, dressmaker Carly Cushnie, The Evaluation Group’s managing principal Divya Mathur, RĒDEN’s and J’Adorn Me’s founder and chief executive officer Nelli Kim and Saks Fifth Avenue’s Roopal Patel. They mingled with RAISEfashion’s brand fellows. Along with executives from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, guests could meet and greet ones from Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Capri Holdings and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

The organization’s just-launched brand fellowship program includes representatives from Agbobly, Awet Latest York, Busayo, Concept 26, Cotte D’Armes, Diotima, Keeyahri and Onalaja – they received a standing ovation from the gang, Harris said Wednesday. Busayo’s “heartfelt, emotional thanks to the organization and all of the volunteers” was certainly one of the evening’s more poignant takeaways, in line with Harris. “
She recalled how she read in regards to the fellowship and something told her to ‘just go for it.’ She said that the experience working with Raisefashion has modified the trajectory of her profession.”

Clarence Ruth, Busayo Olupona, Awet Woldegebriel, Jacques Agbobly and Shari Smith.

Lanscine Janneh/BFA.com

The volunteer network Raisefashion goals to create change from the ground-up through pro-bono consulting for 250-plus emerging brands. Together with learning the ins and outs of navigating the industry, the group helps the up-and-comers cultivate a network of contacts. While many associate fashion with the design side of the business, other essential elements similar to e-commerce, finance, merchandising, operations and logistics, influencer outreach, creative content strategies, marketing and public relations might be explored. The SoHo House event reinforced the necessity and strength of the community, and “how necessary fundraising might be to proceed the work. That might be key for the organization’s future successes,” Harris said.

With that in mind, supporters are already planning an event through the next edition of Latest York Fashion Week in September.

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